tv Today in Washington CSPAN August 19, 2009 6:00am-7:00am EDT
there are kurds outside of iraq, in turkey, iran, and syria. but in iran itself, there is a deep fault line that has existed really since the collapse of the ultimate empire between the arab and kurdish people of iraq. and they have fought off and on for almost a century. they have also lived at peace at times, reaching accords that eventually fell apart. since 1991 -- well, there was an autonomy agreement that the kurds signed with the regime, the baath regime, in 1970, and that came apart after five years. but after 1991, the kurds were able to reinvigorate their autonomous region and occupy the area that you see on the map, the white area. since then, it they have
started to develop away from the shadow of the regime, in a way, and to bring some economic growth to the area, but for many years, until 2003, the kurts were very much restricted by the fact that their only excess was through neighboring states, turkey and iran, and these states had no interest in allowing the kurds to develop too far, because these countries opposed the emergence of the kurdish independent states in roque or even, more broadly, in the entire region where the kurds live. now, after 2003, when the kurds were able to cross that green line and then also took positions of government in baghdad, they have done much more to increase their chances of eventually turning their nonstate entity into an independent state. for now, this is not a realistic objective, because none of the neighboring states, nor iraq, nor the international community at large, favor the
emergence of an independent kurdish state. but what the kurds are doing is to maximize the future possibility of an independent state by creating the infrastructure for it in economic terms, in legal terms, and in political terms, basically by creating a record of sovereignty. by repeating the claim over and again that the kurds are entitled to independence, and this is the ed for it. and then you can create a list of that evidence. the problem is that if there is going to be a kurdish entity, whether independent or not, the question is where is its boundary, southern boundary. we know the northern boundary is, of course, the iraqi border, the iraqi border with syria, turkey, and iran. where is the southern boundary? this is when we come to the disputed territory. so the arab-kurdish dispute in iraq is very much over the
boundary, and this is significant not only because the kurds claim areas to be originally part of kurdistan and, of course, there never was an entity called kurdistan in legal terms, with boundaries, but also because this area, especially the disputed territories, happen to be enormously rich in natural resources, especially oil and gas. there's also one question, of course, the area is also very rich in water. and because of the presence of oil and gas, which first started to be exploited in the 1930's, the issue has become highly i understand send air over who controls these territories, these disputed territories. in the last few years, both sides, the kurdistan regional government, the k.r.g., and the baghdad federal government, have started to take unilateral
steps to increase their control over the areas of the disputed territories that they control. because, in fact, what has happened is that the kurdish -- the k.r.g. controls part of the disputed territories and has its forces deployed there, while the federal government controls other parts of the disputed territories and has its troops deployed there in many areas. the line that divides the kurdish and the iraqi troops, that is the trigger line. unfortunately, we don't have -- i cannot draw it because it is not dermarr indicated and it's not necessarily a stable line. it changes. and it is usually visual only if you travel on the roads and you hit a check point and you realize that you, for example, just passed the last iraqi check point and you're now going past a kurdish check point and you've clearly passed into the kurdish territory, but
not necessarily the kurdish region, which is behind the original green line. so there is this arab-kurdish dynamic over resources on the ground, and we have these unilateral steps. that is one dimension of the conflict, but there are two other dimensions that are going play in the next year as this plays itself out. the second dimension is the regional one. i already mentioned that the regional states, the neighboring states, turkey, iran, syria especially, they do not want an independent kurdistan. they want kurdistan to be weak, but they also want it to be stable because they have no interest, he is terribly turkey does not have an interest in an unstable kurdistan on its southern border. they fear, in fact, an unstable iraq, and they'd rather have a stable kurdistan on its border if the rest of iraq is going to be unstable, but they don't want it to be that stable or that thriving and blossoming that it might actually start to act on its aspirations to
become independent. so they play a very difficult game of keeping kurdistan sort of stable, but weak. and moreover, what these states also want, especially turkey, is part of those resources. it wants access to the oil and gas that lie in northern iraq inside the kurdistan region, but also in the disputed territories. the fact of the matter is that while the kurdistan region does have oil and gas, the more south and west you go from the kurdistan region into the disputed territories, and the closer you get to can kirkuk in particular, the better the quantity of oil and the larger the quantity of the oil and the gas. maybe you can now show the third map that tries to put all of this together. here you have a map that shows the kurdistan region in sort of
the beige color. is that the right color? then you have the rest of iraq in white. and in between, you have a shade that maybe is light blue, the way you see it, i hope, or maybe it's white, that show the disputed territories. and then you see oil fields and gas fields lying all through that area. some of them are currently being exploited. others are not. they are being explored or marked for exploration. but there's no doubt that the area is hugely rich in oil and gas. and so turkey, which doesn't have its own oil and gas, is quite eager to diversify its sources for hydrocarbon, and is quite eager, therefore, to bring froil iraq into turkey and through turkey for export
by the mediterranean port to the rest of the world. turkey doesn't really care where the oil comes from. it's happy for it to come from any part of iraq. there is a pipeline that connects near tikrit to turkey and then on to the mediterranean coast. there's also a pipeline from kirkuk that connects from that pipeline. turkey is will also to take oils from the kurds, but so far the issue is who has control over this the oil. is it the federal government in baghdad or the kurds? and this is part of the dispute that is happening right now, and turkey doesn't want to unilaterally take oil from the kurds because it doesn't want to give the kurds that kind of strength. so it wants baghdad to be part of the deal, and that means that the kurds would have to compromise with baghdad, which is what is not happening at the
moment. that is the regional dimension. the third dimension is the intrakurdish one. this is another fault line that has been there that is, you know, sort of the motif of modern kurdish history ever since defeat of the revolt in the 1970's, there have been two major parties in kurdistan, the kurdistan democratic party, the k.d.p., and then now headed by the president of the kurdistan region, but there's also been the patriotic union of kurdistan, which sprang from the k.d.p. in 1976, which is led by jalal talabani, which is also now the president of iraq. these two parties have been at logger heads at many times, but have also cooperated on other occasions, as they are still doing now.
they fought a civil war in the 1990's, but they've made peace since then, an uneasy peace, and they have tried to reintegrate the two separate administrations that they had set up, the k.d.p.-run administration and the p.o.k.-run administration. now, these two are largely integrated at the top level, but underneath, a lot is still a stir, a lot of the two parties don't get along at all, and there's a lot of collect. moreover, because these two parties have had a very difficult transition, and i say that, while acknowledging these transitions are always difficult, from a gore ale movement to a government that needs to administer a territory, there have been a lot of complaints from the kurdish people, especially about corruption, the lack of governance, the lack of accountability, the lack of service delivery, and so, in
the last elections that just took place three weeks ago, we've seen the emergence of a viable opposition in kurdistan in the form of two lists. one, the change list headed by jalal talabani's erstwhile deputy, which is a secular movement that drew support, mostly from the p.o.k., not too much from the k.d.p. and secondly, the islammists who are moderate islammists in the muslim brotherhood kind of vein, which ran a list that came in third after the top list, which was the kurdistani list, which is a coalition of the k.d.p. and the p.o.k. now, what is important is that this original split between the k.d.p. and the p.o.k. has never
truly been overcome, except at the top level. so we now see a strong alliance, for example, between the k.d.p. and the p.o.k. leadership, but this is symptomatic of the discontent that lives within kurdistan, not only about the lack of governance, but also within the p.o.k. about the close alliance with the k.d.p., and this is very much a party that is opposed to the k.d.p. but also, importantly, the k.d.p., viewing the future with trepidation, especially the american troop withdrawal, is starting to turn toward turkey for solace, thinking that its economic relationship with turkey may lead to also a relationship of becoming sort of a protector of turkey, where turkey can replace the united states as the main protector of
the kurds. but the people and their political representatives, be they the p.o.k., don't see things that way. they are much more distant to turkey. they're closer to iran in many ways. but they also have a stronger sense that their relationship, their primary relationship, if there has to be one, because everyone wants to be independent down the line, but if there has to be a relationship, it has to be with baghdad. jalal talabani has been based in baghdad the last few years, as have other p.o.k. leaders, including the deputy prime minister of iraq, but now the other leader is also very explicit about -- he says very clearly there is no room for a mini state in northern iraq and the kurds are part of iraq and they need to deal with baghdad. well, he says that, but at the same time, he also have a hardline when her it comes to issues like the disputed territories. he very strongly holds the belief that these territories are part of the kurdistan
region and should be incorporated in the kurdistan region. in that sense, he's no different. but this split between the k.d.p. and sort of the political parties and other parties is significant as this conflict over disputed territories is going to play itself out in the coming year, especially as we are going to approach a time for when the united states is going to withdraw its troops. now, there are three things going on. one is the u.s. troop withdrawal, and maybe, just like the announcement of a troop withdrawal was preceded by a surge, now we see that the withdrawal from the disputed territories and from the areas in northern iraq is preceded by sort of a mini surge that the general announced yesterday, which is the additional deployment of american troops ahead of a withdrawal in order to bring down tensions between
the regions. but this is a stopgap measure clearly aimed at reducing tensions, but it's not in itself a solution to the problem of the disputed territories. and worse, it could actually make the parties on the ground dependent on american troops, which is not a good thing when you're actually going take the american troops out. so there is an inherent contradiction between the short-term objectives and the medium to long-term objectives that needs to be resolved. the solution, of course, lies in the political process. but just like the surge in 2007, 2008, made remarkable progress in the military domain, it failed to reach any progress in the political field, so it may well happen with the political process on the disputed territories. that's the second issue. what is happening on that front is that there is a u.n.-led
process. it is led by the united nations assistance mission for iraq, which has a process. it came out with a big report that until now has not been made public, but is starting to circulate in ever wider circles, so aner or later you'll have a couple on your desk. it's 500 pages, so good luck to you. it's good reading. but this report is actually remarkable for the in-depth research it displays on the social and economic and legal and jurisdictional and political history of individual districts in these disputed territories. and for suggesting ways of building confidence in these areas that might then lead to a political solution which can only come from the parties, the stakeholders themselves, and cannot be produced by the united nations.
as the u.n. makes very clear. and so this report was released in april and has led to the creation of a task force in june, which has just been given a little bit new life, but sort of sputtering along without a lot of energy, when prime minister maliki went to the north to meet their leaders a couple of weeks ago. so this task force is now charged with coming up with solutions to the disputed districts, and this process may go along, working on the principle that essentially those districts that have a leadership of one type or another and where there's a history of control of one party should probably gravitate toward official control by either the k.r.g. or the federal government. but that is difficult, and
that's going to take time. and more importantly, at the end of the road, there's still kirkuk, because we can talk with other districts, but at the end of the day, what is really at heart, at the core of the conflict, is kirkuk, because kirkuk is a place, city and government, that the kurds have claimed for a long time, but it's also where most of the oil actually is. and so this process is going on, but not at a kind of time table that people in washington like, meaning it may take years. but that is probably what is possibly and probably what is necessary -- but that is probably what is possible and probably what is necessary in order to instill confidence in all the parties. but just as we had an administration before that was rather impatient about how things were done in iraq, we now have an administration that now wants to pull out of iraq at a high speed. and again, these are american
time tables and not iraqi ones, and they are essentially at loggerheads, and the upshot may be chaos. the third element after sort of the u.s. withdrawal that is happening in the same time frame are the iraqi legislative elections planned for january 16, 2010. and elections have a way of bringing the worst out in people, maybe also the best, but usually the worst in areas of conflict, and maybe understandably so. we saw ahead of the provincial elections last january that the rhetoric between the k.r.g. and the baghdad government went sky high. and clearly this was triggered by baghdad, i would say, and it served prime minister malecee extremely well because he did well, and he may well do so again in the legislative elections as a way of
presenting himself as an iraqi leader, because ant an anti-kurdish message goes over particularly well. but that said, he also has to be very careful, because what he has said -- what he has said is he wants to create sort of a post-sectarian and both ethnic coalition of parties, and he needs to do this, because maliki's own party is sectarian, and second, is very small, as well as the weaker parties, because he became prime minister by default in 2006, not because he was the strongest leader of the strongest party, and now he has to transform his position into the strongest leader of the strongest party. and that means he has to build a coalition, and that means he has to bring in kurds, and that means he has to reach out to the kurds, and the only way to do that is not to raise the rhetoric against the kurds, because that would have the opposite effect. there's very few kurds in northern iraq that have any love for baghdad and certainly
for arab nationalism. and rightly so, because arab nationalism has hurt them tremendously in the past. and so what is interesting now with the intrakurdish dimension playing itself out, or starting to play itself out, we may well see attempts by the federal government in baghdad to reach out to dissenting elements within the kurdistan movement, the kurdish national movement, and bring them into a coalition, whether these efforts will succeed is an open question. i certainly don't know what will happen on that score. already goran has said it's going to run separately from the k.d.p. in the national elections, but it has also said that it will continue to be part of the kurdistan front in baghdad. it does not want to undermine the kurdish unity in baghdad as it -- as the kurds confront the federal government. and so interesting things are going to happen there, but also interesting things are going to happen in kurdistan itself
because the kurdish parliament is going to have to meet, and for the first time, there's going to be an opposition that is actually occupying some 38 to 41 seats depending on how well the opposition parties get together and work together. and that will push the k.d.p. and the p.o.k. toward greater openness hopefully and greater accountability, which is not a bad thing in a place where corruption is rife. but what will happen with the disputed territories? this remains an open question. our sense is that if the united states manages to exert significant pressure on the two sides, as long as the united states has the leverage to do so, to reach a compromise on the disputed territories, it could come about. but our sense is also that this
timeline is basically a year before significant drawdowns, too short to accomplish this. and then the question is, is the u.s. military capable of instilling sufficient confidence between the parties on the ground to facilitate relatively peaceful relations once american troops pull out of the area? now, i can assure you that if they fail in that, that conflict along the triggerline is almost inevitable, but whether that will in turn lead to all-out conflict between the k.r.g. and baghdad government is an open question, and i certainly don't want to predict that, but we should be very careful, because it could happen. and then we go back to the neighboring states. i already mentioned that the k.d.p., they are looking toward
turkey, because they want if the access that turkey provides to the outside world, to europe and to the united states. they need to overfly, itish airspace, for example. they have, of course, the truck route through the border crossing, and then, itish investment that is critical to the development of the kurdistan region. construction is booming in towns like kirkuk and others, and that is mostly due to investments from turkish companies. turkey also -- if turkey were to join the european union down the line, they offer that prospect for the kurds in northern iraq of having some act sells to the union, not direct, of course, but indirectly. but it's much more than if the kurds would stick with baghdad. and i think most important of all, as i mentioned before, turkey might provide a measure of protection for the kurds if
turkey found this economically useful. why would it find it economically useful? well, if turkey were to gain access freely to the oil and gas. north, and i don't want to say kurdistan region, but of the north generally, then turkey would act to protect access to the oil and the gas. and this is what the k.d.p. and the k.r.g. are thinking, is that this may well be a scenario, because in their view, it may well be that once american troops pull out of iraq, that baghdad may not hold that there will be chaos, that there will be civil war south of this trigger line, and that the kurds will gain de facto control over kirkuk and its resources and that they will be able to export these resources through turkey, and that is this is in the mutual interest between turkey and the united states. so there is a political
momentum to sustain that should, in fact, the rest of iraq descend into chaos. if this happens, it's a scenario. but then we come back to the intrakurdish fault line, and we have to wonder what will happen between the k.d.p. on one hand and most of the p.o.k. and the goran party or movement or list at this point on the other hand, will that split again or will they stay together? and it may well be that the parties will seek an alliance with baghdad, and the k.d.p. seeks an alliance with turkey. and already, even though i'm not predicting this either, because we have to be careful with predictions, you already see some movement in that direction. you see already, for example, that the hydrocarbon infrastructure is already separate between the k.d.p. and the p.o.k. areas, that contracts that are with foreign
companies, that are under k.d.p. areas, and contracts for companies working with the p.o.k. go to p.o.k. areas, and that infra structure that is to be the pipelines are separate. so there is already a push on the ground towards separation rather than toward unification, which is, i would say, rather disturbing. so i want to leave it at that, because i'm sure you have many questions. and that's t. >> thank you very much for that very insightful analysis. i'll begin by asking you a question about kirkuk. there was going to be a referendum on kirkuk. it was postponed under pressure from the american government. where do things now stand on kirkuk? is there consensus not to press this issue? are there hardliners who wish to elaborate? >> well, if you listen to the president on a daily basis, he mentioned kirkuk and the needs to implement the constitution, in particular article 140, which lays out a process for
resolving the status of the disputed territories, including, most importantly, kirkuk, and that process envisions originally a phenomenon called normalization, which is essentially a roll willing back of the arabization of the previous regime, a consensus, and a referendum. all this was supposed to take place before the end of december 2007. well, it didn't, simply because baghdad was not interested in doing this. and so the kurds can now only sort of repeat the line that this is the constitution. 80% of the iraqi people voted for the constitution, so why is it not being implemented? but the fact remains it is not being implemented. and this is when the united nations stepped in and began its alternative process of adjudicating sort of the status of the disputed districts. but in the report that was released in april, it made very clear that it stays within the bounds of the iraqi
constitution, and it makes very clear that it supports article 140. you say, does this make sense then? because we're actually implementing article 140. it's all about the interpretation of the word referendum, because the constitution doesn't specify what kinds of referendum is to be held in kirkuk. it just says a referendum should be held. it doesn't say which question should be asked. what r the question should be, do you people of kirkuk want to belong to the kurdistan region or not? what the u.n. is saying, forget that kind of referendum, because that's enharntly hostile, it can only lead to conflict, it's not a good way to build peace between communities. it should instead be a confirm itory, it should be, do you agree with what was just signed , and that agreement, of
course, is a compromise agreement on the status of kirkuk. and because if such agreement were to come about, once you have such an agreement, people obviously will vote in favor of it, because it's a con sins-based agreement. so all the demographic manipulation that all sides are claiming will no longer apply, because everybody will vote yes anyway. and so it's a very smart way of dealing with things except the slight problem is that you have to come to this agreement, and this is what i already said may take several years. but it is at least a way that could lead to a peaceful solution of the conflict rather than this other referendum as a hostile one. so at the moment, the referendum is not off the agenda, it's just not imminent. >> if you could please state your name and affiliation. >> my name is richard mckey. i was the counselor at the u.s. embassy in ankora in the mid 1990's and twice was a member of delegations that went there
in an attempt to get talabani and bargnani to shop shooting at eacher, and we failed both times. so if iraq falls apart, there are still turks in influential positions who think it's not too late to revisit what happened in 1923 and that turkey could again have at least a protector role in northern iraq. but my question deals quite specifically with the other great thorn in the turkish side in addition to kirkuk, which is, of course, the p.k.k. presence. it's been quiet the last year or so now, i think, but the bitter enders there do flare up from time to time. i just wrned how that plays out in the turkish k.d.p. and then in the larger relationship. thank you. >> clearly for turkey, the p.d.k. plays a critical issue, and they will raise it at any moment. it's partly a serious issue,
because the p.k.k. is militarily in northern iraq and has directed military efforts inside turkey from there. but it's also partly part of the turkish public debate, and so no turkish politician who wants to survive politically can easily compromise on such an issue. and so we have seen very recently steps taken by the ruling party government, the ruling government in turkey towards some kind of accommodation with the kurds of turkey. and there are hopeful signs that something will happen, and the p.k.k. leader is supposed to come with some kind of road map in the next couple of weeks. that may or may not facilitate such efforts. we'll have to see. but if there's going to be a deal between turkey and k.r.g., it will include some kind of provision for the p.k.k. that is based inside iraq.
now, the k.r.g. has said, listen, we don't like the p.k.k., but there's some afinity there, some solidarity there, and we can maybe take some steps against them, and it may not say that, but frankly the p.k.k. is a cuddish party and they don't like the parties because they could subpoena plant the k.d.p. and p.o.k. but what they cannot do is militarily dislodge the p.k.k. from the mountain, and frankly, these parties themselves used to be based in the mountain and were never dislodged by the iraqi stages and chemical weapons and other measures. so i think that is a pretty good argument. but that said, there are other ways possible, and the k.r.g. in turn says, turkey, we can take steps against the p.k.k., but why don't do you something for the kurds of turkey so that the p.k.k. no longer has that?
that is also a powerful argument, and turkey is now starting to listen to that. of course, there are also groups in turkey that will push back against that very strongly. and so that's also going to take time. because the p.k.k. is an issue that is directly related to the status of the kurds in turkey, its iraqi element is really only a part of that. the p.k.k. doesn't need to be in iraq. it carries out attacks in turkey that have nothing to do with northern iraq. they're deeply into turkey with no go-between at all. the question is really what happens in iraq. there's been talk of amnesty, there's been talk of other ways of dealing with it. i think there has to be some package deal probably, and i know these things are on the agenda. they're being discussed, but turkey doesn't want to be seen to be negotiating anything having to do with the p.k.k., but effectively they are, of course.
>> phoebe moore, historian of modern iraq. thank you very much, as usual. that was a superb rundown. i wonder if i could get you to expand some of your thoughts with the usual nuances to two other neighbors in the region and how that plays on the kurds. one is israel, and i'm not raising this to be controversial about whether they're engaged in anything, but i keep hearing from the kurds that that's kind of a model of what they might like to achieve, moving in a western direction, and, of course, israel has good relations with the u.s., and turkey, and i'd just like to hear some thoughts on that one. and, of course, the neighbor on the other side, iran. it's interesting that they still feels that they have to play inside iraq and that's the
most important thing. they have to consider iran t. they've always been a little more sect tar, etc., even if not leftist on occasion, and here they have a government in baghdad that is not clearly. you know, it's religious, and its ties to iran are also controversial. so i wonder if you could just give us some thoughts on how relations would appease neighbors and maybe anybody else like syria you think plays into this. you know, the kurds have the tragic predicament of having been split up as a nation among several very powerful states in the region that have emerged after the ultimate empire. so that is their conflict and their predicament to deal with.
the other conflict is the palestinian conflict. the israelis, because of the israeli-arab conflict, were always looking for partners among non-arabs in the region. iranians for a long time were that. now, of course, we have a very nasty dynamic, but israel always says -- up and hear it in iran as well -- there's no problem between the israeli and the iranian people. so you find a lot of support inspect israel for the kurdish predicament, though it's mediated by the strong alliance between israel and turkey, and vice versa in iraqi cud stan, you find very strong feelings of sympathy towards israel. and in fact, it always confuses me a little bit when the kurds say kirkuk is their jerusalem. i never know if it's from the israeli palestinian or the palestinian perspective. it's rather disturbing to me, actually.
i think they'd temperature both ways, actually, but the suffering aspect and then the control aspect at the same time. that's a little bit unfair to the kurds maybe, but i don't think they should actually use that line, because i don't think one should equate god with oil. but i remember seeing on the kurdish, the district director's office, you know, israeli flag, you know, and i asked them about it, well, you know, we love israel, because it goes back to the 1970's when the kurdish revolt was supported in part by israel, and so there's like a historic sense of solidarity there. but otherwise, i don't think there's a strong israeli role in kurdistan. and the kurds really cannot afford to do that. for example, there's been talk that this will be a staging talk for israeli jets on their way to bomb iranian nuclear facilities. well, i'm not sure that they
want to become a war ship, you know? it has inherent -- it remains a very weak and fragile area, and it is totally vulnerable to attacks by the neighboring states which are hugely more powerful. so kurdistan has a very careful game to play in that sense. so i don't see any strong alliance there. on the iranian side, yeah, that's a different story. the alliance there is even stronger, because if you look at the iran-iraq war, the cuddish parties joined iran in the war effort against the regime of saddam hussein, they would say not against iraq, but the regime of saddam hussein. and, you know, infamous attack was a prime example of that when the kurdish parties basically escorted iranian troops into iraqi territory, kurdistan, of course, and then got pummeled -- pummeled is not the right word here, with the largest chemical attack on an
urban center in history, which is the subject of my book, by the way, which is available in bookstores. or not available, but online anyway. and this alliance continues to play itself out, but iran has no interest in the emergence of a kurdish state in northern iraq, but because turkey has been actively preventing that for a long time, iran says thank you very much. i don't need to do anything except to send messages every so often. for example, earlier this year, the iranian foreign minister went to northern iraq and sort of let drop that he was against the kirkuk referendum. that wasn't the first time that this message was relayed. it already had happened before, but clearly iran does not want kirkuk to fall to the kurdistan region, because with its oil resources, clearly the kurdish bid for independent would be much stronger. so i think iran knows how to
meddle in cuth stan. it has played that part in the past. you know, it has supported islammist groups that are quite radical in a shiite-controlled sense that is doing this, so it makes no sense ideologically, but this is all about geo politics, and so it can do that, and it may do that again if it finds it necessary. but for now, it says turkey is doing all the heavy lifting, thank you very much. >> questions from the press? any reporters? no. ok. >> the question i had once before, in terms of a potential confrontation without protecting anything again, if you look at it from the k.r.g. point of view, wouldn't they really rather, if there's going to be a confrontation, wouldn't they rather have it earlier?
they're not predicting it, but isn't there -- could there not at least it be a strong incentive for the kurds to try to settle this, even in a confrontation earlier, rather than later, which the iraqi militarily would be much stronger? >> well, the k.r.g. definitely wants to settle it earlier rather than later, rather than have the process which the referendum that was supposed to resolve it, then it didn't happen. they want to solve it fast, because they realize that their window of opportunity has started to close, is closing as we watch it. but the problem is they don't come down from their rather main demand, which is they want kirkuk. so is there any sign of leadership? i would say there isn't. you talk to jalal tail binee, you can find room for compromise. and i think that is also historically the role -- the
role these two leaders have played. but keep in mind that jal al tail binee is originally from the kirkuk area and he was born outside kirkuk, but originally his family is from kirkuk. and second, kirkuk falls within the area which is always been led by the p.o.k. sinlts mid 1970's. and so the p.o.k. has control in kirkuk relative to the k.d.p., which also leads the k.d.p. to shout more loudly about kirkuk, because that's its way of drawing support away from p.o.k. so that internal conflict, which plays he was out in kirkuk every day at an institutional level and is very, very nefarious, that conflict is not helping finding a compromise on kirkuk, one side saying we're ready to compromise, the other side going the opposite direction. but they see the military risk,
and i think now my sense is that the kirdish leadership has made the calculation that, ok, the americans are, in fact, not kidding when they say they're going to leave. they are leaving. and secondly, you know, we predict as k.r.g. that iraq will not survive beyond an american troop withdrawal, because baghdad is totally dysfunctional, state institutions remain weak and incohesive, and there's simple knoll will to resolve the conflicts between, say, the insurgents and the maliki, or even through maliki and the supreme council, and then the sadrists out there. it's just too much of a mess. they're making the assumption that it's too late, we cannot reach a compromise even if we wanted one. we've tried, it didn't work, so we need to look elsewhere. and then what's the second best?
it's turkey. nobody likes turkey in kurdistan, but it's better than baghdad, it's better than iran, it's better than syria, we'll have to work with it, live with it, and then there's europe and the united states beyond. i'm not -- i think it's a dangerous assumption, because first of all, iraq is not lost. i certainly would not want to say that. and secondly, if you take the position, that means you definitely don't want to compromise. so any effort by the u.n. is totally lost. so i think the challenge to the united states to bring -- for turkey, for that matter -- to send a very clear message to the kurdish leadership, that, in fact, they need to work out an accommodation with baghdad at this stage, fully protective of kurdish rights, but maybe making a compromise on territory. >> weave got many questions in the overflow room. i'll combine two questions. what should the priority be for the new kirdish government, and
in your opinion, how is democracy in kurdistan changed? >> what is the future -- >> we have to see a government emerge. we don't even know, for example, who will run the government? very, very likely it will be the k.d.p. and p.o.k. but this pitts on the issue of who -- but this pivots on the issue of who -- how many positions the p.o.k. will get in this ruling coalition, because there is a possibility if the k.d.p. says, listen, p.o.k., you lost all your votes, so why would we give you 50% of the positions as we had agreed prior to the elections? we would we let them, the prime minister, when, in fact, you didn't pull your weight? in fact, you lost all these, and now we have an opposition that is coming into parliament,
which you're now working against us. and the p.o.k. may say, well, if you do that, we'll all bolt and go to the goran list. and if that happens, which i don't think will happen, but it could, this is the kind of debate that is happening now. but if that happens, then you could see an opposition coalition being the largest and being in a position from a government. so i think it's going to be the k.d.p. and p.o.k., but it may have to be some kind of compromise there where the p.o.k. gets some position, and maybe they will become prime minister, but not for the full four-year term, and then the k.d.p. will take over, and they may not get all the senior positions that otherwise they would be entitled to, and they will form the government. then they will still face a very strong opposition in parliament. that's about a third of the parliament. and so if they're going to have priorities, it's going to have to be corruption, because this says the agenda item that the opposition, you know, won on the basis of. so i think the k.d.p. -- not
them, the k.r.g., has always talked about fighting corruption. we've seen very little actual action, actual change. and so maybe this could start up. the second issue is service delivery. already the k.r.g. in the last few months has made some headway in bringing electricity to people's homes. these things took time to get them started, and now maybe it will accelerate, but these are clearly the top priorities. this is what accounted for the electoral defeat that they suffered to the p.o.k., which lost in taliban eye's hometown, which was a very humiliating blow. and the second part of the question was -- >> democracy in kurdistan. >> well, democracy in kurdistan. what is democracy? you had elections. the elections were open, largely free and fair, dispute allegations of fraud. there was the usual sort of little problems.
but i think the opposition parties have by and large accepted the results, which was a wise thing to do. and so this was a useful exercise. it is one in a series of exercises that together could build democracy in kurdistan. but what we need most of all is democratic institutions. institution-building is a generational project. it's going take time. we are working on a report right now on the governance in kurdistan that hopefully will come out in a month or two that will hopefully update it. i'm awaiting the results of our research on that. but i'm heartened by the slow progress that is being made. but there are so many factors that could, you know, throw something in the wheel, the relations with baghdad, u.s. troop withdrawal, we can just hope that the kurds will have the space to continue to move forward.
i think the kurds could not do what the regime did. it could not cheat, and the reason is because the cuffereds are totally dependent on the west, and that is -- the west troops continue to play the role of monitor, benefactor, protector, to the extent that it can. this is good for kurdish democracy. >> i wanted to ask you a question about the kurdish parties, the kurdistan front looking toward the 2010 national elections. if you look at the 2005 elections, the kurdistan front, effectively had an alliance with the united iraqi alliance. they had particularly good ties with the supreme council, the party which supported the kurds' regionist ambitions, but they also supported maliki in
his selection as prime minister. to the extent that there are now some potentially serious cleavages between maliki on the one hand and the supreme council on the other, how will this affect the calculations of the major kurdish parties looking at how they align themselves in terms of national politics? will they still be inclined to go toward the supreme council, or if maliki is willing to give them something of significance on an oil law or some other issue of importance to the kurds, would they be more inclined to support maliki? >> the kurds will go with anyone who gives them kirkuk, that's the bottom line. but since no one is going to do that, there will be tough negotiations up ahead for everyone. i think the kurts always rued the time when they blessed
malik he'll in 2006. remember, they vetoed the other because he didn't do anything on dirkuk. well, then maliki did nothing on kirkuk. then i think they realized that this is a problem with baghdad and not any individual. and the problem is with dawa and with everybody else except the supreme council. the supreme council, first of all, they fought together, the p.o.k. and k.d.p. in the mountains and the war. they were together, for example, and there is a lot of solidarity from that time still between the leadership, but leaderships start to fade now, of course, both p.o.k. and supreme council. but the bond is very strong. and secondly, the kurds, you know, want maximum autonomy in iraq, and supreme council, of course, has had this project of southern federalism or, you know, of the apartheid decentralization with the kurdish and shiite entity. and this suited the kurds very well.
but now they did very poorly in part because of that agenda of theirs, also because it's not a popular party to begin, with even though it's powerful. and so now we're going see new alliances emerge -- emerging. now the kurds have to say, who can we deal with in bag zphad and that's tricky, because nobody is going to give them much of anything on kirkuk. on the other hand, all of these parties need some kurds in order to make these new coalitions against each other. so they need to give something. what are they going to give? they're going to give promises. then, of course, nothing will happen after that. that's the thinking, because that's what happened twice in the past after the 2005 elections and 2006 elections. so i see a lot of continuing unhappiness up ahead on that front. >> thank you, sir.
david bourne with the defense intelligence agency. i thank you for your presentation today, sir. my question is, looking at the province for a moment, since the sunni-led gathering took power earlier in the year, there's been some serious near-miss scraping with the k.r.g., particularly involving other forces. and sir, my question to you is, do you see a need, first of all, for a mediator between the k.r.g. and the a.h.g., and if so, who? who is a possible viable mediator between two sides? >> there's definitely a need for mediation. there has been mediation, and it has occurred at different levels. you have had sort of -- sort of the u.s. brigade headquarters in kirkuk, it's not just that
right away, it's also in diala, but niniwa, because of the elections, it's become particularly acute. but it's no less serious along the other parts. so let's take it all together, because there have been mediations at the local levels. in kirkuk, there is u.s. brigade levels, because there have been joint coordination centers, j.c.c.'s, in verse parts of the governments that have liaisons from both the iraqi army and the kurdish on to the military level, sort of the iraqi police and the kurdish k.r.g. police on the police level in towns, especially. now, you could have the same in niniwa. clearly the general is now calling for additional deployment of u.s. troops, so that would presumably mostly be there, because that's where the
least american troops are and where the need seems to be the greatest, so that would make sense. but there is also mediation done by the u.s. embassy, tchs shuttling back and forth all the time, and by the united nations with their people going also up and down top niniwa and other places to try to calm things down whenever there's another little spat, usually along the trigger line. and in diala, you know, we already have had an experiment with joint patrols, with iraqi army, operating together at check points and going on patrol. so it is possible. and i just, just for a historical footnote, it's very important to remember that in 1991, after the uprising, after the uprising was crushed, iraqi forces went into kurdistan. there was a standoff. and then there was an accommodation, and there were joint patrols between the iraqi army and the kurdish in towns. it lasted a few months, and
then the iraqis basically said, let the kurds stew in their own juice and then they drew back to what became the green line. these things are possible. they're not just long lasting. they're not a substitute for a political agreement. but it could lead to a political agreement by building confidence between the parties on the ground. so i think you very much want to promote that kind of mediation. i'm not saying we need an envoy or anything. i think there's enough people there already dealing with it in a fairly coordinated fashion. >> well, i'm afraid our time subpoena. i know there are a lot of questions. people can ask you afterwards so. thank you very much for coming. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2009]
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